Meropenem is a carbapenem antibiotic approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of complicated skin and skin-structure infections, complicated intra-abdominal infections, and pediatric bacterial meningitis (in patients >or=3 months of age). In clinical trials, it also has shown efficacy as initial empirical therapy for the treatment of nosocomial pneumonia. Unlike other beta-lactam antibiotics, including third-generation cephalosporins, carbapenems have shown activity against extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing and AmpC chromosomal beta-lactamase-producing bacteria. Compared with imipenem, meropenem is more active against gram-negative pathogens and somewhat less active against gram-positive pathogens, and it does not require coadministration of a renal dehydropeptidase inhibitor. In most comparative trials, clinical and bacteriological response rates with imipenem and meropenem were similar. Compared with clindamycin/tobramycin, meropenem is associated with a reduced length of hospital stay and a shorter duration of therapy among patients with complicated intra-abdominal infections. Meropenem is well tolerated by children and adults and has an acceptable safety profile. Alternative meropenem dosing strategies for the optimization of outcomes are under investigation.